Hilary Duff has been named the first chief mom officer of Carter’s Inc., the Atlanta-based childrenswear firm, in an effort to put her parenting expertise to work and reach Millennial parents. She will also be creative director and parent consultant for the brand, designing two limited-edition capsule collections for fall 2022 and spring 2023.
Carter’s, which dates back to 1865, is the largest branded marketer of baby and children’s clothing in the U.S.
“It is such a beloved brand. I have such nostalgia wrapped around the Carter’s brand from my own childhood, and then becoming a mom myself. I feel that my biggest mission in this life is to be a good mom and to be there for my kids and when I think of Carter’s mission, it’s so aligned with that,” Duff, a mother of three, said in an interview.
Duff’s label, which will be distributed exclusively to Carter’s direct-to-consumer channels, will be called Hilary Duff [heart] Carter’s. Carter’s has a website and 1,000 stores across the U.S., and Duff’s collection will be in about half of them.
Sizes will range from newborn to 24 months.
Duff will design an elevated fall collection with a boho chic element that will include knits, sweaters and jumpsuits, in both neutrals and some printed patterns for boys and girls. The products will range from baby to toddler, and a few pieces for moms as well. The fall collection is inspired by cozy autumn weekends with family and friends.
Prices range from $12-$24. Baby/toddler/kids hats are $16; adult hats and scarves are $18 to $20; sweaters, shackets and jumpsuits are $22 to $24, and fashion bodysuits, leggings and pants are $12 to $16.
“While every mom is a chief mom officer in their own way, I’m honored that Carter’s chose me to represent their brand and be the ultimate champion for moms everywhere,” Duff said. “I was inspired by Carter’s mission and their commitment to inspire parents and future generations. Motherhood is not easy but it’s incredibly rewarding, and through my partnership with Carter’s, I hope to be a source of light and inspiration for others as we navigate our individual parenting journeys.”
The 34-year-old Duff first rose to fame in the title role of television’s “Lizzie McGuire,” and has starred in such TV shows as “Younger” and is currently in “How I Met Your Father.”
She is no stranger to fashion. Previously, she had such fashion ventures as Stuff by Hilary Duff, Femme for DKNY and the “Muse x Hilary Duff” collection, a collaborative effort with GlassesUSA. Her deal with Carter’s is exclusive.
“I am in the throes of motherhood,” said Duff, whose children are 10, three and 13 months. She said she previously designed a children’s and women’s collection of rompers for Smash + Tess.
For her first fall collection for Carter’s, she designed Fair Isles and wide stripes and lots of neutrals with some pops of color. “There are some plaids. There are some paper-bag pants that are adorable,” she said.
Basically she wanted the ease of getting a child dressed. She said Carter’s “is so dialed in” to knowing what kids will wear up against their skin. “I have three children who don’t want hard pants or itchy sweaters,” she said. When all the fabrics came in, she saw that she didn’t have a problem with any of them. “They were all soft and kid friendly. Honestly, it looks like all stuff that I would wear, all shrunken down in size,” she said. She noted that there are a few surprises in the collection for moms.
Among her favorite looks are two Fair Isle sweaters that are a neutral pink and there’s a full romper that’s unisex and comes in creams and grays. “It’s very warm and easy and goes for both genders,” she said. She is also designing “shackets” that are lined with a warm fleece and on the outside are bright plaids.
She said she will be curating shopping guides and sharing some of her tips on how to get your kids dressed when they’re not cooperating. She’ll talk about mixing and matching pieces, what to have in your diaper bag, and how to get out of your house quickly.
She said her youngest child influenced the collection the most. The collection is mostly for her age.
For the past seven years, Duff has been commuting back and forth between New York and Los Angeles shooting, “Younger,” and she said she’s happy “How I Met Your Father” is shooting in L.A. She starts up again at the end of July.
“It was very hard, but I would not have changed it for the world. New York is such a special place. I got to have a lot of my late 20s and early 30s going back and forth to two of the greatest cities. It was so good for my son to have a little bit of experience in New York. Of course, the time on the airplanes and being apart was hard, but it made me stronger,” Duff said.
Asked how Carter’s reacted to the May/June Women’s Health magazine, where Duff posed nude on the cover and inside its Body Issue, she said, “I did not hear anything so I think that was good news. I think they really respect me as a woman and a mom, and they know it was done with the intention of empowering women and feeling good about myself. It was definitely not oversexualized, it was more powerful and just being 34 and in my body, and appreciate what my body has done for me. I think it was more inspired than anything.”
In a separate interview, Jeff Jenkins, chief marketing officer of Carter’s, told WWD the collaboration with Duff is a first for the 160-year-old brand, which has done some one-off influencer partnerships with celebrities, “but we’ve never done anything of this scale.”
He explained that as a brand, they are always trying to connect with the parents, and every new parent generation has new idols and celebrities that they grew up with. He said today’s Millennial parents grew up on Duff, have followed her career and are watching her now on “How I Met Your Father.”
“Not only is she a great celebrity and mom, she’s also a really relatable mom. She shares a lot of what she does on her parenting journey with her fans on social media and her community,” Jenkins said.
According to Jenkins, she will design a couple of different collections for Carter’s and is working with Carter’s on how to connect to their parent community. She’ll be offering her tips, tricks and advice over the next 18 months.
As for what they hope she will do for the brand, Jenkins said, “When we think of what Hilary will do for the next generation of parents, she embodies that spirit more than anyone else because she’s so open on her social media. She connects to that next generation of parents. She’s a mom icon. It was a no-brainer to welcome her to the Carter’s family. She’s going to bring value in lots of different areas, from design aesthetic to the chic sense of style that she has. She’ll bring her personal stamp on Carter’s and will continue to bring relevance with Carter’s to the next generation.”
Duff’s content will span across all their different channels, from how-to guides to quotes to information they’ll be launching over the course of the partnership through the website, emails, social media. “There will be a central location on our website for parents to access as well,” he said.
Describing how they got together with her, Jenkins said when they put together a list of the quintessential Millennial moms, “she rose to the top of the list.”
Jenkins said Carter’s performed very well during the pandemic. “The good news for us is that kids continue to grow and grow out of clothes,” he said.
When asked whether Carter’s has plans to work with other celebrities, Jenkins said, “It is our first foray and we’re very excited about the potential of Hilary and what this can mean for the brand, and we also want to remain relevant and more to come.
“As we think about reaching that Millennial and Gen Z parent, Hilary is a big thrust of that,” he said.